JUGs, Trademarks, Copyrights and Open Source…

In preparation for the Oracle Users Group Leaders’ Summit that will happen in Redwood Shores California next week, a long time, unsolved issue resurfaced and JUGs have a hope to discuss it during the Summit: the usage of JEDI, an open source Java training material developed by Sun Microsystems through the University of the Philippines Java Research and Development Center. An issue that shows that JUGs, as well as any developer, need to pay attention at those pesky things called Trademarks, Copyrights and Licensing…

JEDI is a wonderful project, promoted by Sun as an open source effort, that many Java User Groups around the world have promoted, used and even translated. Tens of thousands of students have already learned Java from those JUG efforts, specially through the work done by DFJUG and JUG Indonesia, as far as I know, the two largest JEDI/JUG efforts. JUGs are not the only ones teaching JEDI, but they are an important and active part of the project. JUGs do more than translate: they turn the content in something live, that students can relate to, with teachers, friends, support and community.

Because it is a training material, Sun employees from the education group (the former “Sun Education”) have in multiple times in the past complained about the usage of the freely available material, saying that the free training provided by the JUGs is prejudicial to their education interests. One has to wonder how it can be prejudicial: teaching Java in poor areas, and thus increasing the pool of available Java developers, will only increase the chances that they will eventually be able to afford an official training or certification.

But offering the training for free or to developers that can’t afford is not even a requisit! Even if JUGs (or other institutions or even companies) are offering this as paid training, that is the nature of open source. If the material is open source, then, there is nothing to complain about. Or is there? Unfortunately, the JEDI courses are “open source” in description only… The site describes the project as “designed as an open source program”, and in an official letter addressed to “whom it may concern”, Sun called JEDI an “open source Java training course”. But this is where the “open sourceness” of JEDI seems to end… There is no license anywhere, no description of rights that project members have, and no specific public information about rights to translate, distribute or even use this material in courses. So far, the push for JEDI that Sun did in the past, that many JUGs jumped into, seems to lack the effective rights needed now that the efforts became real.

Java User Groups have dealt with Trademark and Copyright issues for some time: the nature of a User Group is to refer to the technology they are a group of, and many have created names, events and logos that incorporated some of the Java trademarks. JUGs also help bridge the language gap, by translating sites, documents and other material. JUGs are enthusiasts, and they jump into good ideas and projects, on the faith that their efforts will benefit the technology. JUGs are non-profit, volunteer, and many times chaotic organizations that mostly lack of understanding on trademark and copyright issues, and many JUGs have stepped the boundaries by creating events or registered logos that fall clearly outside of the guidelines. SouJava, the JUG I helped create, was guilty of that and after years of discussions and agreements, we’re still working with Oracle to resolve some of the (now small) pending issues. The lovely Javapolis event, run by BeJUG, changed its name to Javoxx and then Devoxx because of similar issues. The usage of Duke, the trademarked Java mascot, and even the Java logo itself was heavily abused by JUGs until we created Juggy, the Creative Commons JUGs Mascot, today used by JUGs everywhere. In an act of sanity, Sun eventually released Duke under a BSD license, freeing the Java mascot from his non-sense trademark jail.

JUGs tend to trust that that things will just be fine, but when there is a large effort under way, JUGs need to be more careful. JEDI is great, but with dozens of volunteers putting in hundreds of hours of translation efforts, and affecting the careers of thousands of developers, and many more JUGs lining up to replicate this in their areas, the lack of clarity on its licensing status is really worrisome. It has allowed local Oracle offices trying to sell their course to promote FUD about JUGs activities, preventing then from forging relationships with governments and schools, and even threatening groups trying to stop their efforts.

Right now, this seems to be done in a local level, and not as corporate initiative. And it is not a new Oracle policy, that’s why I mentioned Sun the rest of this post: the threats and FUD are done by the same people who were doing this during Sun’s time, this situation is going on for years. It just gets worst the larger and more spreader the JUG efforts become. Since the JUGs involved haven’t been able to get an answer for years, I think it is time to put the issue in the clear. We may even find out that JEDI is not open source at all, it was just misleading marketing. But I really hope that next week, we can discuss this situation with Oracle during the Summit, and that we can all push JEDI forward with a clear model that will work for everyone involved. In the end, we all want to benefit Java developers, and the combination of an open source training with the enthusiasm of JUG members is a powerful force.

About Bruno Souza

Bruno Souza Open Source Communities Gardener, Java Developer, Technology Evangelist, the Guy with the Flag.
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13 Responses to JUGs, Trademarks, Copyrights and Open Source…

  1. Hi Bruno.
    Yes, lets make it a topic for the UG summit.

    Cheers,
    Tomas Nilsson,
    PM for Java SE at Oracle.

  2. dwildt says:

    Bruno, there’s a typo on JEDI link to java.net — “jdei” (http://jedi.dev.java.net/).

    As a supporter of JEDI here in the south of Brazil (Porto Alegre), I hope the material keeps free to those who want to get more expertise in Java development.

    Looking for a Brazil perspective and my personal perspective, I hope this can help new developers to grow and therefore more professionals able to get into the software development market.

    JEDI is an OpenSource documentation. If it gets somehow “blocked”, the community will create other ways to create knowledge to general public.

    • Bruno Souza says:

      Thank you for the correction Daniel, fixed!

      I also hope that JEDI is an open source documentation, but we don’t know for sure right now… The issue we have right now is that so far we have no clear information that it is… And the fact that the groups asking for clarification never get any (for 5 years!) is at least weird…

      Bruno.

  3. JP says:

    Bruno,

    I am surprised to read your post as well as your comments. You could have easily sent me an email and I would have willingly answered all your questions.

    As one of the project leaders of JEDI, I try my best to help JUGs and the JEDI community resolve any issue they may have, including licensing. No one has approached me about licensing issues with JEDI so I do not know the basis for your remarks.

    Another clarification I would like to make is that JEDI is a PARTNERSHIP and is not owned nor controlled by a single entity. The course materials were written by professors and engineers at the University of the Philippines with the guidance of the Sun Evangelists. Having said that, there is nothing to “steal” from Oracle.

    JEDI has not been spared, we are also facing challenges as the partnership transitions from Sun to Oracle. But that should not hinder the use and spread of JEDI. I’m positive that the Oracle execs will agree with me.

    • Bruno Souza says:

      Hello JP,

      This issue is going on for years, and I think it needs to be discussed, that is my point. The only question that needs to be answered is: what are JEDI’s licensing terms?

      This is not resolved, and as Rom mentioned on his e-mail, it was “brought to the attention of Sun since the beginning of the project”. JUGs (and I’m sure others…) are investing time and effort in promoting, translating and evolving JEDI, under an unclear license. DFJUG spent more then a year begging for Sun to give them some licensing information, and what they received back is a ridiculous statement that actually restrict them instead of granting them any rights… I’m surprised that those issues have not reached you, maybe they got lost on the corporation madness, but the issues exist for a long time.

      I think JEDI is a great project, that should be promoted, translated and supported by all JUGs. And for that, understanding what rights you have in using it, is important.

      Since there is a Summit next week, it is a good moment for us to discuss it, so we can all better support JEDI. And I’m not blaming Oracle, we know this situation is an old one. I’m just bringing it up, asking that this is discussed and clarified.

      The fact that we’re already discussing it, is a great one! Tks!
      Bruno.

  4. Frans Thamura says:

    this is a long question that put me in bad relationship between me and Sun Indonesia, the worst task list in my Java movement, because we want to grow JUG, and see JEDI as prospectus, we now have a ministery of education regulation soon, and JEDI will be default, we modify the stack call it JENI, under ministery of education, now the material also using in highschool in south east including the country where JEDI from, take a look http://www.jarc.or.id, and there is south east asia game competition, and all start from this. so u can imagine how many people has using it, and how hard to manage them.

  5. Frans Thamura says:

    sorry for the bad english. may be this is better

    FYI, JENI is a ministery of education project, and JUG Indonesia part of committee. JUG worked on translation. There is MOU between ministry and Sun. Matt Thompson come to launch the project, Java Night Festival.

    and Bruno also come, first time to Java island.. thx blog this case, a long outstanding case..

    • Bruno Souza says:

      Hi Frans,

      Yes, it is clear that this is an important project. The reach it has in many places like Brazil, Vietnam, the amazing reach in Philippines, and of course in Indonesia makes it clear that JEDI is an amazing success.

      That is why we need to understand not only where Oracle wants to take it, but how the collaboration will happen, so it is clear. More then that, it makes no sense to have issues and mistrust between the local Oracle offices and the entities using JEDI in different regions. If this issue is clear either way, the project will benefit a lot.

      Thanks,
      Bruno.

  6. Frans Thamura says:

    another material may be help all

    the JENI in ASEAN (South East Asia)

    http://www.slideshare.net/flatburger/jeni-asean-presentation

    and ministery’s slide about JENI

    http://www.slideshare.net/flatburger/sistem-online-jeni

  7. JP says:

    Bruno,

    It came to our attention that some partners had problems with their local Sun offices unwilling to support JEDI. Although Sun corporate relayed the message across the organization, the local offices needed to protect their revenue stream, and that is something we cannot control. With Oracle, we hope the communication within the organization and the relationship with the local JEDI partners will improve.

    It has been long resolved that JEDI is under Creative Commons licensing but we fell short by failing to include that in the materials and the website.

    It is indeed beneficial to know where Oracle stands and what it’s role will be in the future of JEDI. Please do initiate that discussion with Oracle during the Summit.

    It is also my wish that *all* JEDI partners communicate with us regularly. Everyone succeeds if we do this together.

  8. gatot hp says:

    dear bruno,
    what happen in indonesia and later on in south east asia, is our effort to focuss and help student and teacher to developt their education material through java prgramming, we give the name JENI, because of spesial for indonesian student and later on there is need from spouth east country to use our JENI focus on Mobil game learning. until now we traing them – SEA teacher including southparth of filipina with mJENI….mobile jeni…

    we alreadi train in more than 6 country , share wth student and teacher and lectur ini those country…; they have already background java programming… and we give them our result game in education..adn share with them how to develelop mobile game for education

    wetrain also mjeni through our streaming acros indonesia,freely, as a content from our it division..and also we train another edu game use c++, unity, rpg, etc to the student who want to upgrade his knowledge, skill in developing his own game..

    just for your information.., we love to work together between indonesia and brazil student through distenca learning or streaming technology , recently we just developt, to cover south east asia…

    let me know…
    best regards,

    gatot hp /seameo seamolec

    www. seamolec.org

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